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The Souls of White FolkAfrican American Writers Theorize Whiteness$
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Veronica T. Watson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781617038891

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617038891.001.0001

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“Shaping Herself into A Dutiful Wife”

“Shaping Herself into A Dutiful Wife”

Demythologizing White Femininity and the White Home in Frank Yerby’s The Foxes of Harrow and Zora Neale Hurston’s Seraph on the Suwanee

(p.59) Chapter Two “Shaping Herself into A Dutiful Wife”
The Souls of White Folk

Veronica T. Watson

University Press of Mississippi

Analyzing white life novels by Frank Yerby and Zora Neale Hurston, this chapter theorizes the connection between race and class in the subjectivities of white women. In the psychological sketch Yerby offers of Odalie Arceneaux, we see a miscegenated mind that constructs white subjectivity in rhetorical dialogue with conceptions of Blackness. Whiteness is presented as a Creolized identity in which Blackness is always already implicated in the emergence of the racially White subject. In Hurston’s Arvay Meserve we see a formerly-lower class white woman who is able to embrace her new upper class status only when she is able to exercise power with and over people of color while appearing to affirm her subordinated position in her marriage. The sadomasochism that informs her marriage and the social interactions between her and racialized Others make her more at home in Whiteness and allow her to successfully class pass.

Keywords:   White womanhood, Creolized identity, Sadomasochism, The Foxes of Harrow, Seraph on the Suwanee

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